This popped up in my Facebook news feed today, and really reinforced for me the argument that I put forward in a recent journal article, Digital Traces of the Persona through Ten Years of Facebook. This article is a longer, more thorough version of a thought bubble I put together for a post here a while back. Thanks to the editors (Kim Barbour, P. David Marshall, and Christopher Moore) of this special issue of M/C for including my essay in this issue on ’persona’.
As I say in the essay, it strikes me that Facebook is really capitalising now on the longitudinal nature of digital traces inscribed on the site by its users. I’ll be curious to see how they continue to roll out features (like the ‘view friendship’ pages, the ‘year in summary’ pages, and the ‘look back videos’). My hunch is that these traces will continue to figure into the way Facebook feeds users back to themselves through nostalgia and subtle (or maybe not-so-subtle, as per the image above) reminders about the depth of the site’s memory – and thus its value as personal archive.
I’m currently in the early stages of a new research project looking at sustained Facebook use amongst twenty-somethings who have been using the site for more than five years. It has been fantastic to get back into interviews for my own research. After the first five, and a debrief with my collaborator in the UK, Sian Lincoln, I’m brimming with ideas for papers and where the project might go next. Stay tuned for more.